The Unfinished Cathedral
Brick by brick and arch by arch, this 32:1 scale wood-carving of the North Entrance of Westminster Abbey was constructed by architect and woodworker Richard C. Lane just as the original cathedral masters built the famous church.
Mr. Lane began construction of the piece in 2005, at the age of 85. The project was started as a study in architecture and an attempt to understand the lives and faith of those who built Westminster Abbey.
He traveled to England to study the gothic cathedral and after becoming friends with the Westminster librarian, was allowed to visit, study and sketch portions of the structure not open to the public.
The 55 in. wide by 36 in. deep by 57 in. tall model was assembled from poplar, basswood and hardwood logs that Lane milled down in his basement shop. While he used his band saw and miter saw for the rough cutting, all the fine detail work was done by hand using chisels.
Disaster struck in 2010 when the top half of the model was severely damaged by workers during a home improvement. The structure would remain in pieces until Lane’s passing in 2012.
Heather Lane-Fowler, his daughter, then spent 6 months rebuilding the cathedral piece by piece using the drawing, photographs and blueprints her father had left.
The rebuilt Westminster Abbey model was exhibited in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum during the 2013 ArtPrize, an art show held throughout downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. It has since been donated to Grand Valley State University in nearby Allendale, where it will be put on display and preserved.
The model's sheer size and attention to detail are astounding.
The iconic stained glass window was hand carved from a single piece of 1/4 in. poplar.
Even the interior is a scale replica, including the vaulted ceilings and arching pillars.